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The Park turns 25!

Do you really remember the first time you see a dinosaur? You don’t really believe it, do you? Its like a miracle!

Dr. Grant look in awe at a grazing Brachiosaurus in this memorable scene, encountering the dinos for the first time. This scene is the most perfect introduction to the park & the entire film series. “Welcome to Jurassic Park” , Dr. Hammond says as John William’s score hits its stride.

In  June 1993, Steven Spielberg changed the cinematic landscape with Jurassic Park; a monster mash sci-fi piece that shook the foundations of filmmaking. And on its 25th anniversary let’s take a moment to celebrate its legacy of greatness.

Spielberg pushed technology into a new frontier by conjuring up unbelievable cine-sights that moviegoers had never seen before. He married digital wizardry to a host od superb practical effects. He & his creative team dedicated millions of dollars in creating those animatronics. That’s what makes Jurassic Park work & that T-Rex breakout sequence still remains terrifying even today! The cast is excellent but the dinosaurs are the real stars of the franchise.  Just like Indiana Jones made archaeology cool, Jurassic Park made paleontology cool.

But what astonishes me is the fact that there are only 14 minutes of pre-historic creatures on screen. In a movie with 2 hours runtime, it looks sparse but that makes everything so impactful. Its a brilliant example of limitations ultimately serving the story being told. The film won 3 Oscars: Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing & Best Visual Effects. It became first film to reach the $1 billion mark (adjusted for inflation).

22 years later Colin Trevorrow rebooted the franshise with Jurassic World; a monster mayhem with more bigger & lethal dinosaurs. It was a win of technology & nostalgia. Spielberg’s dinos cut, stomped & slashed the box office, breaking the record of The Avengers by earning $1.6 billion worldwide.

Till today, Jurassic Park remains one of my all time favourite movie & everytime it airs on T.V., I watch it.

Thank you Mr. Spielberg, for making Jurassic Park a triumph in pop-culture entertainment!

Infinity War isn’t just a movie, its a lifetime event!

It all started back in 2008 with Iron-Man. And yet after 10 years & 18 movies all that build-up has led us to this moment- an epic cataclysmic event that will redefine what saving the universe really means. But its a gargantuan task of managing more thab 20 heroes in one film. Will the Russo brothers be able to deliver a movie that is worthy of this hype?

Its hard to juggle an ensembled cast but the Russo brothers did an exceptional job. The action rages seamlessly from planets to planets for 2.5 hours. But there is also time for MCU signature trademark-humour. Spidey’s pop culture references, a machismo banter between Thor & Star Lord, Strange vs Stark, GOTG especially Rocket Raccoon added relief.  There were some weird team ups led by the alpha males (yeah, that’s what I call them). Every hero got a fair amount of screentime. Many don’t know each other or the parametes of their shared universe. But Infinity War did not belong to these heroes, it was all about Thanos.

To challenge them is to court death..

After being teased in the first Avengers movie, Thanos, the mad titan has finally arrived. A showdown was inevitable. Josh Brolin plays the CGI character but there is also a human side to it. Thanos is the embodiment of madness & the quench for immense power, constantly blurring the lines between a prophet & a survivor. With the population of the universe is expanding & the resources finite, he has to destroy half of the universe in order to bring balance. While others see him as a madman, he sees himself as a God who is willing to do what no one else can.

Infinity War is about that staggering loss, the pain & suffering it inflicts without a proper goodbye. You won’t be the same after leaving multiplex basking in the loss of your favourite characters. The strength of Infinity War does not lie in this movie but all the 18 films that came before it- the relationship that we have developed with the characters & the relationship they have developed among themselves. Its a lifetime event. Marvel Studios took a decade to meticulously plan this mammoth showdown. Before 2008, if you would have asked me who Iron-Man was, I would have said that he is just a superhero from Marvel comics. But now these superheroes have become a pop-culture phenomena. Iron-Man, Thor, Captain America etc. have become household names.

Infinity War will leave you haunted in your senses & desperately in need of a sequel- proving why Marvel Studios are the real masters of this superhero genre!

The progenitor of shounen anime!

It started as a Journey to the West about a kid trying to find Dragon Balls. Who else at that moment would have thought that this kid would grow up to become one of the most beloved anime characters of all time. Admit it or not many people got into anime after watching Dragon Ball Z. Written by Akira Toriyama, the manga was way ahead of its time. DBZ is considered to be one of the most influential anime. It re-invented the shounen genre like no other.  Other mangakas Mashashi Kishimoto, Eiichiro Oda, Tite Kubo took inspiration from Toriyama to write Naruto, One Piece & Bleach respectively. If wasn’t for DBZ, these animes wouldn’t have existed in the first place.
I started watching DBZ during my school days. Little at that time I knew about its popularity. I finished watching DBZ & DBGT five years back. After that I always yearned for more of Son Goku’s adventures. Finally God answered my prayers & Dragon Ball Super started airing in 2015.

Taking place after the epic battle with Majjin Buu, God of Destruction Beerus comes to earth in order to fight a worthy opponent as per the prophecy. The first two sagas were a rehashed storytelling of the movies Battle of Gods & Resurrection F. The start was bit shaky. The iconic blonde Super Saiyan is replaced by Super Saiyan Blue. At that moment, it seemed Super will never be able to live upto its predecessor. 

From the third saga, a new story was started. The concept of multi-verse came into picture. Universe 6 saga introduced some pretty new & interesting characters. But the series reached its peak with Zamasu/ Goku black saga. Who is Zamasu? Is he a God who has succumbed to evil? How Zamasu & Goku Black went on a God-killing spree? All these questions are slowly answered. It was an classic example of fallen angel storyline. One of our favourite character made his return. Goku battling an evil version of himself was like a dream come true. Zamasu turned out to be one of the best villians of Dragon Ball thanks to his motivations believing what he’s doing is the right thing & that mortals are inherently evil & corrupt & must be exterminated for the sake of the universe.

The Tournament of Power was the final arc. 8 universes collided in an all out battle. The losing universe will be erased from existence. This saga offered great opportunities to invigorate interest in characters other than Goku. They have done a bloody good job in creating the one punch man like character, Jiren. Goku vs Jiren is considered to be one the best battles in DB history. The hype was so high that it sent several streaming sites crashing. The animation style is leaps & bounds out of this world. The fight scenes burst with colours & movements. Ultra instinct will rejuvenate the dynamics of DB fights forever. This is what happens when some of the best animators in Japan are working on the finale. But is Goku’s mastered Ultra Instinct the best moment in the history of Dragon Ball? Nah, Goku going Super Saiyan for the first time against Frieza & Gohan’s Super Saiyan 2 transformation against Cell were the biggest character payoffs. The last few episodes were literally a f*** you to the spoilers. 

Dragon Ball Super throughout its span of 3 years gave us many memorable moments while paying tribute to vintage DBZ fights that spawned the interests of old & new viewers alike. It retained the heart & soul of the original TV series. With Super ended, there is a void left in my heart. But no matter how many new series they make under the Dragon Ball name, nothing can match the iconic Dragon Ball Z, which still remains a cult classic!!!

Marvel has crowned its new King!!

In the time of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.

          – King T’Challa

From director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale station, Creed) comes Black Panther; first ever African superhero movie. Many are calling it not just a movie but a movement, a revolution. Marvel went off road for this one.

Black Panther starts right after the events of Captain America: Civil War. King T’Chaka is dead & its time for his son T’Challa to take over the throne. To the world Wakanda is a third world country but in reality their technology seems to be light years ahead. They have umpteen amount of vibranium- the strongest metal in the universe. 

The newly crowned King T’Challa takes a deep pride in his tradition. Chadwick Boseman adds a certain degree of flexibility to the character. He is served by Dora Milaje; an elite female warrior group, his sister Shuri who is a technical geek & his love interest Nakia. This movie has no time for damsels in distress! The King looks unbeatable in his new suit but nonetheless he receives a competition from a foe that he never saw coming- Eric Killmonger!

Director Ryan Coogler is careful at storytelling. Killmonger first appears as Klaue’s henchman but took everyone by surprise when he appeared in Wakanda to challenge T’Challa. Michael B. Jordan portrays the character with majestic ferocity. He is the outcast prince. He is here to reclaim the throne. He came here as a conqueror.  He is the consequence of the sin that the previous King T’Chaka has committed. He is the embodiment of the pain & anguish of every black Americans who are unable to trace their family roots. These ancestral gaps are a direct result of families being murdered & wiped out. Killmonger & T’Challa are shattered mirror image of each other. Killmonger’s trauma is something that T’Challa can’t grasp but both of them are fighting for the betterment of their own people. Killmonger is the hero of his own story- his people’s rage!!

 It was Killmonger’s ascension & death that opened T’Challa’s eyes to shed Wakanda’s disguise & be open to Africans all over the world. Black Panther wouldn’t have been a strong movie if it hadn’t tackled such issues. Despite all this family drama you still realise that you are in a Marvel movie thanks to mesmerizing action. Coogler brought something new to this superhero tale with his immersive storytelling while creating absorbing characters.

Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped the ship because they knew death was better than bondage.

               – Eric Killmonger

Christopher Nolan: An interstellar odyssey 

If you make yourself more than just a man…..if you devote yourself to an ideal…..then you become something else entirely…..a legend!

These are words in the trailer released by WB.

For modern cinephiles this man is a God. His first feature was a lesser known film, The Following but ever since he made his Hollywood debut with Memento, he made a clear statement- he is not here to he trifled with. Right from the start Christopher Nolan has barely missed a note. His consistency is astonishing. His distinctive touch is instantly recognizable. His ability to entertain & stimulate viewers senses has made him the most universally admired filmmaker. He is the master of non-linear narrative. His movies have one of the best screenplays & his ideas are unmatched for any other filmmaker. His seven films are set to release in 4K ultra HD format remastered in HDR by the director himself.

1. The Prestige

Batman meets Wolverine. The Prestige adapted from an award winning novel of the same name by Christopher Priest is a twisty tale filled with magical theatrics & inventive cinematic devices. Nolan not only made a movie about duelling magicians but also showed us how self-destructive obsessions are with a love story & a unique plot with sci-fi twist.

2. The Dark Knight trilogy

Nolan made the best superhero trilogy of all time. He transformed Batman into The Dark Knight legend. Batman Begins is an utterly amazing & riveting start to a brand new beginning. Its sequel The Dark Knight takes a giant leap transcending the genre but showcasing a philosophical battle between the blurried line of good & evil is as delicate as the line between life & death. The title of the movie not only refers to the Batman but also to the fallen hero Harvey Dent. The Joker’s actions are not motivated by greed, politics or fame. He just wanna watch the word burn. The legend ended with the The Dark Knight Rises. The Dark Knight trilogy proves why Batman is still DC’s biggest asset.

3. Inception

Living within a dream within a dream. In some quarters of the world people are still talking about it. Inception follows one man’s harrowing journey from reality to dreamworld & back again. The strength of Inception does not lie in its strange complex framework but on how Nolan keeps a firm grim on his multi-layered narrative, yet brilliantly keeping the viewers engrossed in the plot. Inception finds a right blend between free-wheeling inaginations of dreams & precisely constructed puzzles. Its hard to follow up for a first time viewer. But things become quite clear after multiple viewing. Or did you just dream up the previous ones?

4. Interstellar

Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here. Interstellar is Nolan’s most ambitious project yet. We don’t know what travelling through a black hole looks like. Nolan created a multi-dimensional sci-fi epic crossing the boundaries of space & time with its universal tale of discovery during moments of complete uncertainty, adding a more human element to it. The result will blow the audience away. 

5. Dunkirk 

Dunkirk is a  wonderful cinematic experience of pure sound & fury, a grim portrait of impending death, military blunder & unpreparedness. What is unique about it is that we don’t see the enemy attacking. The dialogues are very less. You won’t feel any sympathy for the characters yet the movie works as Nolan creates suspense by mere screenplay, cinematography & music. Just like Memento & Inception, it follows a multi-layered narrative. In the end all the narratives converge together & the release is just sheer ecstasy. Christopher Nolan delivered the greatest war epic ever made, a movie that rivals its genre contemporary; Saving Private Ryan.

Even though Christopher Nolan hasn’t won any Oscar yet but with the kind of movies he makes, it will be hard to keep him out of the Academy Awards.

Does Justice League really stand a chance against The Avengers?

In 2012, Marvel made cinematic history with The Avengers; the first ever superhero team up movie. It focused on heroes humanity & with captivating performance from an ensembled cast, went beyond all the boundaries of superhero films before it; thus increasing the popularity of Marvel characters exponentially. I was bedazzled on how director Joss Whedon balanced everything masterfully with such an amazing script. With over $ 1.5 billion, Marvel’s The Avengers remains the fifth highest grossing movie of all time. DC’s Justice League was released last week. But with Thor Ragnarok still dominating at the box office, does Justice League really stand a chance?

Inspired by Superman’s selfless sacrifice, Batman & Wonder Woman must assemble a team of other superheroes to save the world from a threat that is beyond each other individual capabilities. 

Director Zack Snyder brought DC’s A-team on the big screen. Like with all his previous works, Snyder knows how to start a movie with a bang. With breezy action over two hours, a strange chemistry between the characters that work, bringing comic book frames to life, Snyder achieves essential cinema kinectics. But Snyder had to leave the movie midway due to family reasons. That’s when Whedon stepped in. Though the film looks like Snyder’s style but Whedon’s fingerprint are all over the movie with his witty one-liners. Justice League succeeds in nailing the characters. The movie looks like as if you are reading comic books on the big screen. But due to thin storyline, bland villian & shorter runtime due to which we couldn’t get into depth of DC’s mythos, Justice League falls short of what could have been an epic blockbuster.

Cyborg- half man, half machine is one of the newcomers of the league. Despite being a theatre actor Ray Fisher plays this complex role quite well. His powers continue to expand throughout the movie.

We finally got a better taste of one of DC’s most powerful heroes,  the King of Atlantis- Aquaman (He is not really the King yet). One shouldn’t mess with this Game of Thrones actor. Jason Momoa brings a swagger & charisma to the role of Arthur Curry. 

Ezra Miller plays the role of Barry Allen/ Flash is the most of the comic relief. He brings the League this extra-dimensional power- the Speed Force. But he is also a young kid who always indulges in science. Ezra Miller received tough competition from Grant Gustin who leads in CW’s The Flash T.V. series. Gustin won Teen Choice Award for best actor twice. So, the stakes were higher but Miller delivered.

Basking on the success of Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot once again reprises her role as the ageless Goddess. She is the heart of the team.

Batman is the HR of the team. He goes on a drive to recruit these heroes. Though the recruitment drive wasn’t good enough but by the time the team is formed we are invested. But Ben Affleck’s performance feels like the time has come for him to retire. He has become more of a caped crusader rather than the dark knight.

If Jon Snow can come back from the dead, why can’t Superman? The boy scout was kept hidden from all marketing plans. The rebirth of Superman was the best scene in the movie. The way he took on the entire League made my moment in the multiplex. But what followed was DC’s true Superman as he was intended to be as a symbol of hope. Though Henry Cavill got a shorter  screentime than rest of the characters but his performance was convincing enough.

Make sure you stay until the end as there are two post-credit scenes- enough for a fan freaking moment.

Final verdict:- Justice League does not match upto the level of The Avengers but forms an irresistible weekend brunch that seems not so nutritious but very tasty!

Ragnarok n Roll: A thundering fiesta of Gods

Right from the opening scene you realize that you are in for a different kind of movie. But is it a parody? No.

Marvel has outdone themselves- Thor Ragnarok is the best film of the MCU thanks to the weird genius of director Taika Waititi.

 Ragnarok means the end of the world.  The story follows the God of Thunder’s imprisonment on the other side of the universe without his hammer & his quest to save his Asgard home from Ragnarok at the hands of Surtur & also confront an all powerful ruthless Hela. Because that’s what heroes do!

Chris Hemsworth sports a new haircut. He once said that he got bored of playing Thor but thanks to Waititi who offered a refreshing take on the character; its not about what you have but who you are already. The big fight between Hulk & Thor did not disappoint.  Watching Hulk’s transition from a big beast to a big baby throwing tantrums was like a cherry on the cake. The banter between Thor & Banner makes up the most memorable moments of the year. I wonder why Marvel didn’t explore this before. Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as the scoundrel cousin Loki who’s still mostly doing things in  the interest of no one but himself.

Cate Blanchett is deadly as the Goddess of Death Hela. Her brutal methods contain a core of truth that Asgard’s wealth & status were built on the back of blood & conquest, the forced colonisation of its nine realms. The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum)  brings his independent acting spirit. Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie is a strong female sidekick character who must battle her inner demons in order to prevent the prophecy. Benedict Cumberbatch makes a dashing cameo as Doctor Strange, a scene that reminds us how vast the MCU has become since its inception.

But the real star of the show is the director Taika Waititi. The New Zealander steered the God of Thunder’s narrative in a whole new direction by juggling parody like humour & deathly substance while also telling a decent story with hyper-kinetic action. Everytime there is a potentially familiar setup, the filmmaker injects his trademark visual comedy to make it all seem fresh.  The film looks like it is made by a Marvel fanboy. Even with the world ending prospect, Ragnarok entertains us in every way. With one of its end-credits scene it sets up the highly anticipated Infinity War.

In order to enjoy the pop fizzy colour palette, funky vibrant tone & retro soundtrack you should watch the movie on the biggest screen in your town. With Thor Ragnarok monumentally raising the bar, I wonder how Marvel will top this with Infinity War coming…….